At first glance, the Celtics’ win over one of their fiercest rivals in the Eastern Conference looked like a positive development. However, one ESPN panel posited that Boston’s 112-109 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers was, in fact, more a complication than cause for celebration.
Richard Jefferson and Jalen Rose, both of whom enjoyed long NBA careers, examined the state of the Celtics on “Get Up!” Host Mike Greenberg asked whether Boston’s success without Kyrie Irving — the Celtics are 8-2 (.800) without the star point guard this season as opposed to 28-19 (.596) with him on the court — complicated matters for Brad Stevens.
“We have a big dumpster fire in L.A. We have a small dumpster fire brewing here in Boston,” Jefferson said. “It’s because you have the Anthony Davis situation. You have Jayson Tatum saying, ‘Hey. I wouldn’t mind being the face of a franchise.’ Why are you — you have a chance to win a championship with this team and you’re talking about being the face of the New Orleans Pelicans?
“That lets you know that things are brewing. And obviously, with Kyrie being out and them getting this win against a quality Philly team, lets you know that things are a little awry.”
Jalen Rose cut right to the chase.
“This will be Kyrie Irving’s final season with the Celtics,” he said.
While both Rose and Jefferson said Boston is not better without the six-time All-Star, who will miss his second straight game Wednesday with a sprained right knee, Rose did note Irving doesn’t quite fit their system.
“This collection of talent was built around Brad Stevens’s ability to play pace-and-space,” Rose said. “Kyrie Irving is so very talented with the basketball in isolation situations and closing games, you must give it to him. That’s just how it goes.
“But when he’s not there you see the ball moving, [Jayson] Tatum playing well, [Al] Horford playing well, [Gordon] Hayward playing well. I think ultimately that’s what they go back to.”